Sunday, December 21, 2008

Early season skiing

Lots of exciting snow conditions to start off the ski season. Alyeska has enjoyed the second snowiest November on record, allowing unprecedented early openings for much of our terrain. Regionwide snow stability has been suspect for awhile with lots of avalanches failing on October snow layers. It produced some large avalanches at the ski area and keeps us on our toes. The skiing has been fantastic and I can't wait for more snow!

Alyeska boundary line, with avy crown on the closed side.

Rob skiing off Magnum, midday twilight in December.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Long live Fred Bull

For all the amazing things I've done with Fred over the years, this is one of the few pictures I have of him. He never did like posing for pictures. Most of the time all my energy was spent just trying to keep up. This day sticks out in my mind as a typical Fred Bull day. Skiing laps on Silvertip peak, adding up to something close to 10,000 vertical feet. He set nearly all of the skin track and I still couldn't maintain his pace.

Fred will always be an inspiration. He will be missed.

Monday, November 10, 2008

New Zealand rafting

Architect creek swing bridge

Paula and I just returned to Alaska after a 2 month trip out of state. Here are some pictures from some of the highlights. We spent about 3 weeks in California. From California I went to Whistler for a week of avalanche lectures at the International Snow Science Conference, then met up with Paula in New Zealand.

New Zealand was sweet as! Heaps of tramping, packrafting, climbing, fishing, mountains, rivers, and sheep. We had a great time exploring both islands.

More pictures can be found at

Most of these pictures are from a hike up the Copland track. We had no information about it besides one photo from another Alaskan friend. This hike and float was incredible. The trail goes up from the West Coast on the south island through lush rainforest up to high alpine zones. It feels like a bizarre combination of Kauai and Alaska, with a beautiful turquoise river down the middle of the valley. We only hiked as far as the Welcome Flat hut (accomodation for 31 people), soaked in the hot springs and hiked and floated out the following day. The river has a steep canyon section between Architect creek and Welcome Flat that is solid class V or harder. It might be worth a look by an experienced and well prepared group. From our put-in at Architect creek below the canyon we encountered a bouldery, pool-drop character creek. We portaged 3 different rapids sections that looked class 3+. Without proper river clothing and rescue gear we didn’t feel like risking a swim in the harder sections. Scouting and portaging was very easy along the sides. There were no sweepers encountered. We floated about 10 km of river back to the car. This region gets enormous amounts of precip, and the river levels have large and frequent changes. Highly recommended trip for anyone headed down there. We finished off the day with a hike to a beach with penguins.

Copland river

We did more in New Zealand than just raft. Other highlights include: hiking the Kepler track, skiing on Mt. Ruapehu, black water rafting the Waitomo caves, and lots of 5 star tramping.

Kepler Track

Whakapapa Ski Field

Rees River

California rock climbing

We spent 3 weeks in California mostly around Yosemite, Tuolumne, and Mt. Whitney. We climbed a few of the easier classic routes including Cathedral peak, Half Dome's Snake Dike, and the East Buttress of Mt. Whitney. The pictures describe it best.
Find more pictures at

Thursday, May 15, 2008


Nick Armitage above Washburn's thumb

Cody working across the Sultana ridge of Foraker

The summer was very busy working for the Park. It was a typical season with lots of climbers, a few accidents to keep us busy, and some beautiful days in the mountains. Highlights include: a trip to the Ramparts, Foraker's Sultana ridge, Rigging course on the Pika glacier, and Denali time on the West Buttress and at basecamp.

Some of my better pictures are here:

Hudson 90X with parhelia

Monday, April 21, 2008

Alyeska 2008

Moneys avalanche, North Face.

Gordon Scott hiking the headwall

Myself looking at the numerous snow layers in a 7 foot crown. Artillery triggered.